SPP 041 – Insights on KDP Select and Its Use for Serials and Other Fiction

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I (Johnny) started the show this week by talking about two KDP Select promotions I ran for Fat Vampire and The Bialy Pimps . These promotions went very well, and led to Sean getting wood or something about some KDP Select ideas he had. So although we had another topic planned, we decided to bump it and talk about Select instead.

Here are some of the conclusions we arrived at throughout the course of this rather complicated and convoluted show, in no particular order.

1. Submitting your book to sites that feature free titles is worth it.
I used AuthorMarketingClub’s book submission tool to let a bunch of sites know that Fat Vampire would be free. As a result — and we’re sure this is only PART of the reason, but it did have to be part — the book went up to #90 on the overall free list and was downloaded around 2500 times the first day.

2. Pixel of Ink is still the big dog.
Of all the free book sites, the one you most want to get mentioned by is still Pixel Of Ink. Even though I didn’t submit it, The Bialy Pimps got picked up by PoI, and that drove over 2000 downloads in the first few hours.

3. But Pixel of Ink seems to prefer full-length novels.
I submitted FV, but tBP was the book that Pixel featured. This despite the fact that FV sells better, is ranked more highly, and has more reviews. I wanted FV to be featured because that’s where I have a funnel (more sequels to buy), but it wasn’t featured. Instead, they pulled my other book, which barely sells, out of obscurity‚Ķ for the SECOND TIME. Our only guess is that they want longer books. (FV is around 35,000 words, whereas Bialy is over 120k.)

4. And this sucks for people who want to offer “full length” stuff as compilations of shorter works, but whose reviews are all on those shorter works.
I have a Fat Vampire books 1-3 bundle that should be long enough for Pixel, but it has no reviews, which would make Pixel turn it down. All of the reviews for the FV series are on the three books that make up the bundle. This led to a discussion too convoluted to go into, but it’s where the real meat is.

5. It may be worth it to end your promo on a high note.
For reasons I go into on the show, my free promo for The Bialy Pimps was cut short when Amazon kicked the book out of Select. The book was ranked at #70 free at the time, which is pretty high. I was bummed out at first because I wanted to see if it could climb higher, but I felt better the next day when I sold like 85 copies of Bialy — a book that usually only sells only a few copies of a month. I attribute this to the book becoming paid again while it was still popular, and possibly also to Pixel’s link to it being relatively “fresh” when the book went paid. I don’t know if this makes me want to cut promos off early, but it definitely has given me something to think about.

To view the video version of this episode, go to: Self Publishing Podcast #41 – Insights on KDP Select and Its Use for Serials

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  1. Random questions from the gallery du peanut.

    1) Is Johnny B. Truant a pseudonym? I’ve always assumed it was, and just got around to asking.

    2) In regards to funnels, do you all have any opinion on the ratios of number of titles of entry priced stuff to mid priced stuff and mid priced stuff to high priced stuff.

    Or, to as it in a manner that is actually clear, assume you have one title priced at 9.99. How many five or six dollar titles should you aim for, and how many .99/free titles should you aim for?

    3) What word count, in your mind, justifies a 2.99 price?

    • Yo.

      1. http://www.copyblogger.com/johnny-b-truant/

      2. I’ll let Sean handle this, but in general you want more lower priced stuff before you have higher price stuff. The funnel narrows toward your bigger items.

      3. Maybe 20k? 25k is better. IMO, 10-20k is a no-man’s land… long for 99 cents, but not quite worth $2.99. (And prices between those are pointless.)

  2. Damn it all!

    Now I have to go back and re-think everything I had planned…haha.

    This was possibly the best episode thus far. While my writing schedule will probably never allow for an “episode” per week, I still think there is a great deal of value for those of us who might release sections of series once every month or so while we figure out how to make a go at our writing becoming more than a “hobby.”

    “Damn it.” Sure.

    But more than that, thank you.



    • Ha, you’re welcome. We’ve been doing a lot of rethinking ourselves!

      • So, I have begun writing non-fiction under my own name and am getting set to release my first fiction series (young adult/fantasy).
        For the fiction series I want to start from scratch with a pen name and have really been struggling with the length to cost “ratio.”

        I am not earning my living from this, and really see a paid sale (at any price) more of a validation for what I am doing…a “score” keeping mechanism. Free is free, and some people will always just gobble up titles I feel.

        That said, I really liked what you had mentioned about creating full books that are comprised of 12 “episodes,” and it seems to me that is quite natural for where the overall arc should be split. But where does that put pricing?

        I am thinking $0.99 for each 10,000-12,000 word section and releasing each part for 2 weeks between new release…one week free, one week at $0.99. Then, once the entire series is out, pricing it for, say $4.99-$5.99 (around half-price).

        I’m not sure what type of % payout you are getting on the $0.99 titles, but am hoping that doing it this way will help to build reviews and aid in playing more of the “long game”.

        As an unknown writer, trying to simply gain a foothold, I am not sure that I could count on pushing readers to the entire series to review it (if it was released first) would garner much action. Then again, I may have no clue what I am talking about.

        I like the idea of pulling all of the individual episodes and leaving just #1 and the full series up once the promo period is complete, but basically “throwing away” all of those reviews would make me sick.

        What are your thoughts on this from the perspective of a new entrant into the world of fiction writing…maybe Johnny would have some insight.

  3. This is my new favorite episode. The black art of pricing and promotion is an interesting and important topic. Thank for sharing your experience.

    • I think it’s mine, too. I really have to re-listen.

  4. Great episode. Now, all I have to do is finish my 6 episode series set in a “smash repair shop that knows too much” so I can release it weekly. Trouble is, at 12k each, it is in said “no man’s land.” Know what you mean.

  5. Awesome show guys! So many great ideas. Learning lots from you guys – thanks.

  6. POI is a mystery. I’ve submitted a novel three times to them and they haven’t picked it up. Yet, they’ve listed my perma-free first episode (18K words) twice now, once without my prompting them too. The only thing I can think of that might help is that I list the individual episodes in the product description, and they include that information in their listing.

  7. Hey guys,

    Really loved this episode! Very insightful and helpful stuff.

    Had some thoughts on serials that I thought might be of interest. Around the 20-minute mark, Sean was talking about how y’all don’t have “the tool” to do automatic updates in order to deliver the serials like Amazon does where you buy it once and get new episodes delivered automatically. But…

    A few weeks ago I ordered Guy Kawasaki’s new book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, and a couple of weeks later got an email that an update was available–in other words, there was new content for that book that I could get updated through the “Manage Your Kindle” links. Then Passive Guy picked up on this same idea with this post and the little discussion brewing:

    So, in essence, I wonder if it’d be possible to sort of hack this Automatic Update thing and make a serial deliver like Amazon does, just by updating the book every week with a new episode.

    This is a different model than what Sean and Dave were talking about by the 30-minute mark or so (where they put out each episode free but have the whole season up for sale the whole time), and I actually think I prefer that model over this Auto-Update thing.

    Anyway, just thought I’d throw this out there for folks to see what y’all thought.
    Thanks again for the great show.

    • I have a feeling that would be somewhat unreliable, and I’d be hesitant to try it. I really really love this new six week free model with removal afterward, at least on paper. I’m dying to see how it plays out.

  8. You guys should do Better Off Undead first every week. You came (heh heh) out of the gate focused, and the discussion was energetic, engaging and full of useful info.

    I wonder if you could entice someone from POI to come on as a guest, and maybe cajole some answers out of him/her.



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